Saturday, January 31, 2015

Little Red's Riding 'Hood (2015)

Little Red's Riding 'Hood. Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Here and there, up and down, in and out, Little Red loved riding around his 'hood. One day, Big Blue Mama gave Little Red an important job. "Poor Granny Putt Putt is feeling run-down," she said. "Her oil is muddy, her exhaust pipe's exhausted, and her wiper fluid is wiped out. Please take her this basket of goodies right away."

Well. I almost don't know what to say about it. It's unusual and original all in one, I suppose. I'd never have thought about retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood in this way. The book is set in Vroomville, and all the characters are machines. Little Red is a scooter; Granny Put-Put is a golf cart; and the Big Bad Wolf, well, he's a very mean monster truck. The story is familiar enough, I suppose, in the end, yet it has an original feel to it. That doesn't mean that I personally love it.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Curious George's Train (2014)

Board Book: Curious George's Train. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Choo-choo! Choo-choo! The engine's pulling in. George is so excited for the train ride to begin!

Premise/Plot: George and one of his friends--a boy, not the man in the yellow hat--are going for a train ride. George is excited, of course. Don't expect this curious little monkey to get into trouble during the ride. It doesn't happen. He stays in his seat like a good little monkey. The text is simple; it rhymes. It's okay. Nothing special.

My thoughts: This was an okay book for me. I liked that this book is in the style of the original Curious George. And I do think that there's always, always a demand for more train books. This one works well enough for that need at least. The wheels on the front cover do spin a little. This book like Curious George's Crane features press-out pieces for children to play with.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Curious George's Crane (2014)

Board Book: Curious George's Crane. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One day out his window George looks and sees a bright shiny crane as high as the trees!

Premise/plot: The book is one of four in the "mini-movers-shaped" board book series starring Curious George. There's also a train, a firetruck, and a dump truck.  The arm of the crane is movable. But the wheels are not. The text is simple, as you'd expect, and features George investigating a construction site. What are they building? A playground!

My thoughts: Not particularly thrilling for adults to read. But for a construction-obsessed toddler, this one probably has some appeal. The book also has press-out pieces so kids can play construction on their own. I'm not sure if these pieces would really work and stand up to repeated use. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, January 30, 2015

2015 Challenge Completed: Sci-Fi Experience

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings
Name: 2015 Sci-Fi Experience (sign up) (share reviews)
Dates: December 1, 2014 - January 31, 2015
# of books: It's not a challenge, so 1 or more books counts as a success

My thoughts:
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED watching Babylon 5! I suppose I should say rewatching Babylon 5! My favorite new-to-me book would be Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Brave New World was interesting, however. But interesting doesn't always equal love. My favorite re-read would probably be The Worthing Saga. 

What I Read:
1) The 5th Wave. Rick Yancey. 2013. Penguin. 457 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2) It's The End of the World As We Know It. Saci Lloyd. 2015. Hachette Books. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
3) To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
4) The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]
5) The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
6) Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
7) Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]

What I Viewed:
1) Babylon 5, disc one
2) Babylon 5, disc two
3) Babylon 5, disc three 
4) Babylon 5, disc four and five 
5) Babylon 5, disc six 
6) Babylon 5, season two, discs one and two 
7) Inception
8) Star Wars, Episode 2

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Brave New World (1932)

Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]

A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, and, in a shield, the World State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. 

Did I love Brave New World? Not exactly. Am I glad I read it? Yes. Brave New World is a classic dystopian novel. The first half of the book seems more focused on world-building, on providing the reader with all the little details that make this future world so horrific. Not much happens but world-building. Readers meet a character or two, sure, but mostly description and information. The second half of the book, in my opinion, is where the characters become more developed. The basic premise: children are no longer born. No more mothers and fathers. No parenting. Children are "hatched." Sometimes several thousand at a time--all identical, I believe. Conditioning begins early in an artificial womb of sorts. Every single little thing is planned and accounted for. Nothing really left to chance. The conditioning continues through childhood. Even at night. Different classes are conditioned differently, of course.

In the second half, Bernard and Lenina go on vacation together to a reservation in New Mexico. They'll get a chance to see savages first hand. They meet two savages that interest them very much. For one is a woman who grew up civilized. (Her name is Linda). She was on vacation when something happened--she became separated from the group and was left behind. She's gone native--forced to go native. She's even had to--shudder--become a mother and raise her own child. His name is John. Though, for most of the book he is simply Savage. They tell their story to Lenina and Bernard. Bernard seeks permission to bring the two back with him. All four head back to civilization--back to London. But how well will John cope with civilization?

Brave New World is both strange and thought-provoking. Also depressing. The world-building was nicely done, I believe, but I would probably need to reread it a time or two to "catch" everything and fully appreciate it. There is plenty to 'shock' that's for sure. Some scenes are just disturbing--and are meant to be disturbing or disorienting at the very least.

I did like the second half more than the first half. It's not that the second half was less disturbing--it wasn't--but the fact that the focus was more on the characters. I can't say that I "liked" or "loved" any of the characters. I pitied John the most because he felt so out of place on the reservation and so out of place in civilization. John wasn't the only memorable character either.

I can see how Brave New World inspired other writers through the decades. Anyone who reads modern dystopian novels--there are so many I could list--should consider reading this one.

Quotes:
"I don't understand anything," she said with decision, determined to preserve her incomprehension intact. "Nothing. Least of all," she continued in another tone, "why you don't take soma when you have these dreadful ideas of yours. You'd forget all about them. And instead of feeling miserable, you'd be so jolly. So jolly," she repeated and smiled..."
The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there's soma.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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